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The Vancouver Canucks have selected Abbotsford, B.C. native and Calgary Hitmen sniper Jake Virtanen with the sixth overall pick at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
Virtanen is a big forward, with high-end wheels and a dangerous shot. With those tools, it's not much of a surprise that he managed a dominant season as a first-year draft eligible skater on a juggernaut Calgary Hitmen side.
He's the first B.C.-born player to be selected in the first round by Vancouver since Cam Neely was taken ninth overall in 1983.
The 6-foot-2 forward managed 45 goals this past season, posting the third-best goals per game rate among first time draft eligible CHL forwards (tied with Sam Bennett, and behind only Robbi Fabbri and Nikolaj Ehlers).
The thing that's most impressive about Virtanen's goal scoring totals, however, is how often he found the back of the net at even-strength. Among first time draft eligible skaters, no CHL player scored as many goals as Virtanen did at five a side (32).
If there's a concern with Vancouver selecting Virtanen this high in the draft, it's that he was third among his own teammates in scoring in 2013-14. The big forward's most common line-mates in Calgary were overagers like Brady Brassart and 2013 New York Rangers draft pick Adam Tambellini.
A more immediate concern for the Canucks could be Virtanen's health.
As to what extent Virtanen was driving the bus offensively for the Hitmen - that's an open question. If he can sustain the goal scoring rate he managed in 2013-14, Virtanen may emerge as the most dangerous goal scorer from this draft class.